August 20 2010
Mark C O’Flaherty
One of the first places I visited on my first trip to New York City in the 1980s was Keith Haring’s Pop Shop on Lafayette Street. Every surface was painted by graffiti artist Haring in his distinctive neo-tribal line, the walls and cabinets were full of sweatshirts, toys, cards and jewellery, and the whole space buzzed with downtown cool. On every subsequent trip to the city, I’d visit and buy at least one or two things – I’d never be able to stretch to tens of thousands of dollars for one of his canvases, but I could still buy a little something as a gift for a friend. When it closed in 2005 (15 years after Haring’s death), I felt that a vital piece of Manhattan was gone forever.
I was delighted when London’s Tate Modern recreated the Pop Shop at last year’s Pop Life exhibition, and I’m even more pleased that Haring memorabilia is available online at www.pop-shop.com. But what’s made me happiest of all is that New York stylist Patricia Field has now created her own line of Haring items; eminently appropriate, as her Bowery store has the same buzz as the old Pop Shop. The sequin tote bags ($120) with three-eyed faces and dancing heart patterns are frivolous and fun, the silk scarves ($72) chime with the parallel 1980s Stephen Sprouse graffiti prints that continue to sell out at Louis Vuitton, while the jewellery, including cuffs (pictured, $168) and necklaces (from $64), is bold and chic. The Pop Shop may be gone, but the spirit and energy of Haring’s art lives on in downtown New York City.